Thursday, July 16, 2009


The core of it is everything you would hope: suffused in a soft blue glow, it sits behind layer upon layer of shielding (magnetic, radiation, thermal), strung with thousands of cables that add a vaguely organic look, as if a great mass of snakes with plastic skins writhed their way in to bask in the weird light. The thickness of the black buckytube-based support struts hint at the immense forces that that will be developed, and here and there the trained eye can spot the glint of lasers, each beam monitoring the most minute deformation of the structure. Precision with a captial P. The drive is big, too, although without familiar shapes to clue your brain in the scale, the size is hard to grasp. Even now - at rest - it radiates power.

"Artistic" impressions aside, my more immediate concern is, does it work? The components themselves are sound; we've bench-tested the heck out of everything, and all is "nominal". What of the system? Well, we will soon find out; what I am looking at, and describing to you, is a real-live honest-to-goodness star drive! You might be wondering where we got the plans for this little baby... isn't the tech behind star-drives an above-top-secret mystery known only unto the EUFOR and SEAU boffins and deployed only on military-operated "flag-runs"?

JD's position on this, as explained to me just after I joined Project Stella, is that seeking out new worlds and new knowledge is so fundamental to just being human that keeping such a miraculous tech secret is downright criminal. Through means that have not been explained to me, JD "liberated" an incredible motherlode of blue prints, design docs... everything, in fact, that we needed to build our own; now, we are only hours away from doing the first full "system" test. If this thing does work, the ramifications are pretty incredible - because if we can build this thing, so can all the other fabbers (docs have all been P2P'd between the fabs), and the genie is well and truly out of the bottle, and we've blasted our way through the roadblock on humanitie's way to the stars.

We've piggy-backed the star-drive to the yacht High Jinks, rather ruining her lines. Her auto-pilot has been fed the coordinates for the test run (this is strictly an un-manned run), and we've instrumented the heck out of everything even slightly instrumentable. Now, it is time to push the Big Red Button (it is actually big and red - a "Wizard special") and find out whether this thing actually works. I figure we are either about to make history as the first non-state actor with interstellar capability, or get vaporised trying. Actually, if I understand the physics correctly, merely being vaporised is one of the less dramatic possible outcomes.

I think I might just re-run a bench-test or two...